Syracuse Overcomes Robinson Red Card to secure 1-1 draw against Wake Forest
By Christian De Guzman
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – For a second, the only thing that the people in the SU Soccer Stadium saw nothing but a Wake Forest defender on the ground.
Then referee Peter Dhima pulled red out of his pocket.
Miles Robinson put his hands over his head in disbelief. Chris Nanco walked over to Dhima and pleaded his case. But the referee pointed to the locker room.
It was just the sixth minute of No. 6 Syracuse’s match against No. 2 Wake Forest, but the Orange had to adjust with only ten men on the pitch. Robinson had been sent off due to apparently elbowing a Wake Forest player.
Without the star defender, Syracuse Head Coach Ian McIntyre switched to a four-back formation and the defense continued to play physical. Eventually, SU would hold on for a 1-1 draw against the Demon Deacons.
The first goal of the match came in the 23rd minute. Wake Forest defender Kevin Politz whipped in a ball to the right side of the penalty box, where midfielder Luis Argudo was. He fought off Liam Callahan and headed the ball down towards the center of the 18-yard area. Meanwhile, Wake Forest midfielder Jon Bakero ran into the box and caught Kamal Miller out of position. Bakero took a touch and slotted a shot to the right of Hendrik Hilpert to put the Demon Deacons up 1-0.
Syracuse would respond in the 36th minute. Johannes Pieles earned a free kick on the left side of the box. Liam Callahan took the free kick and lifted the ball into the penalty area. John Austin-Ricks settled the ball in the box and it rolled towards Kamal Miller, who swung with his left foot. The defender’s shot bounced off of Wake Forest midfielder Ian Harkes and rolled past goalkeeper Alec Ferrell, and SU equalized at 1-1.
That is how the match would finish as Syracuse sat in defense for the majority of the game. The loss of Robinson clearly changed the way the Orange played the match, as the possession-oriented style of play would no longer work with just ten men.
“Changing from a three-back to a four-back that fast was tough,” said Kamal Miller. “It’s something we’ve done before and we adjusted and handled it very well for the whole game.”
The four-back formation only featured in one other SU game this season. That was against Louisville, a game in which Robinson did not feature due to his call-up to the USA under-20 national team. And much
like that game, Coach McIntyre relied on some other players to fill the void left by Robinson.
“You practice a certain way all week and then within five minutes, all of that hard work was out of the window,” said Coach McIntyre. “A softer, less resilient group would have had enough opportunities to quit tonight, and we didn’t do that.”
With the regular season now complete for Syracuse, Coach McIntyre’s squad sits at 10-3- 3. The Orange enters postseason play with a young team combined with veteran leadership. And Coach McIntyre has confidence that his guys can get the job done.
“What we will take is the knowledge and the confidence that we can compete even against adversity,” said Coach McIntyre.